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Pam Kisala submitted this story as a Dog Days of Summer reader's pet tale before either of us knew we were going to do a story about Wheels for Waggers for this year's issue.
In the summer of 2010, Daisy was a 13-year-old Beagle whose "brother" (a Beagle/Bassett mix) had just passed away from cancer. Not only were Daisy and her "sister," Sadie the Schipperke, quiet and withdrawn, but Daisy was having physical symptoms herself.
Daisy was unable to use her back legs at all, her front leg functioning had started to decline, and she needed to be carried outside—and held—to use the bathroom. Andrew and Pam (Daisy's humans) tried several things to try to get Daisy moving, but she didn't seem interested in trying to get around.
Andrew was convinced that being left home alone and apart from the rest of the "pack," such on the twice-daily walks, was making her feel even worse. Since Andrew is an extremely creative and talented woodworker, he decided to custom-build a rocketship-shaped wagon for her to ride in and thus keep up with the rest of the pack. Around the same time, Andrew and Pam decided to adopt an adorable brown puppy named Walter from the Durham APS.
Thanks to her rocket wagon, Daisy was able to come on Walter's first walk with the pack. Walter formed a special bond with Daisy and figured out a way to play with her. He would nudge her repeatedly with his nose until she would get fed up and howl at him. Walter got quite a kick out of her howls, and he would jump backwards each time. He would then jump progressively closer to her until she'd howl again.
The "Daisy-and-Walter-game" not only got her interacting with the world again, but also got her moving—she'd lean towards him as she howled and away from him as he jumped at her. Before long, she was able to roll over, started sitting up in her wagon, and even started to require less assistance to go to the bathroom. Daisy was able to bear more weight on her front paws and needed less support for her back legs. Daisy also started to pay more attention to what Walter and the rest of the family were doing throughout the day.
One day in October, Daisy seemed interested in going down the hall to see Andrew. Pam held Daisy up as she started to walk, and Daisy seemed steadier than ever. Pam let go and, miraculously, Daisy kept going! She walked a total of about 12 feet, playing it totally cool as if she had been walking all along. Each day she walked a little bit more, and within a week she was able to stand up on her own. By December, Daisy was able to walk the 1/2 mile around the block, and by the spring she was hiking (slowly) again. Her spunky personality and insatiable hunger both came back with a vengeance.
Pam and Andrew are very grateful for every moment they have with her, and they credit both Walter and the wagon for lifting her spirits and motivating her to move once again.